Tag Archives: mourning

Loss reveals tough lesson

This prolonged period of mourning I am enduring is teaching me many things, one of which is the unintended cruelty of others.

My dear bride passed away four months ago from a savage form of cancer. I miss Kathy Anne every waking minute of every day. Yes, I have written a lot about that already and I don’t mean to belabor the point, as my grief is getting easier to manage.

What is maddening, though, in the extreme are the phone calls and text messages that keep coming at me from those interested in buying my property in Princeton, Texas.

It’s a modest, but nice home. I am making payments each month, just as we did when we purchased it in early 2019.

OK, I know what’s going on. I had to file some paperwork with the Collin County Clerk’s Office, in its probate department. It’s public record. The word has made its way to the real estate buzzards circling overhead. They want to make me a “cash offer” on the house.

I tell them all essentially same thing. I might hang up on them or tell them, simply, “I am not selling. Goodbye.”

On occasion I might ask the caller, “What prompts you to make this call? Does it have anything to do with my wife’s passing?”

They hang up.

It’s no surprise to anyone, I am sure, that losing a beloved spouse is new to me. I have not traveled down this road before. My sadness is tough to shake, even without the assortment of messages and “outreach” from those seeking to do business with me.

They likely won’t read this blog, but this forum does give me a chance to vent my frustration during this still-difficult time in my life.

So … I just did. Thanks for hearing me out.


The journey continues

Well, gang, I have made another command decision from my North Texas man cave, which is that Toby the Puppy and I are going to hit the road again soon.

I returned in mid-April from a monthlong sojourn out west to clear my head and begin to mend my heart shattered by the loss of my dear bride, Kathy Anne, to glioblastoma … as savage a form of cancer as one can imagine.

I’ve had time to collect myself. One of my sons has moved in with me into my Princeton home. He brought his two kitties and they have done well getting acclimated to their new surroundings — not to mention to the presence of the king of our house, Toby the Puppy.

But I have decided I need more time away from my digs. This time, it’s points east where we’ll go. Unlike the westward trek, which took us to the Pacific Ocean, this journey won’t allow us to look at the Atlantic. We’ll go as far as just south of Raleigh, N.C., where I’ll spend some time visiting my cousin and her two young sons.

Then we’ll head to Roanoke, Va., where we will see two of our dearest friends on Earth, a couple my bride and I have known for more than 30 years.

After that I will visit another friend in Charleston, W.Va., a fellow with whom I worked at the Amarillo Globe-News.

Then I’ll park for two nights in Louisville, Ky., where I will spend a day at the Muhammad Ali Museum. Oh, I do look forward to paying my respects to The Greatest.

My head is a whole lot clearer as I prepare to embark on this trip than it was when I headed west. My heart, though, remains a work in progress. I do believe what many have said, which is that my heart is likely permanently damaged. I’ll just have to cope.

I can do that. First things first. The open road awaits.


Journey gains some light

Well, everyone, my journey through the darkness has brightened up with the arrival this week of my elder son.

My wife’s passing from cancer in February has presented all of us with a mighty struggle to be sure. My sons, my daughter-in-law and my granddaughter all miss Kathy Anne terribly … as I do. The sadness I continue to feel without her won’t go away any time soon. Of that I am certain.

My son’s arrival after he sold his house in Amarillo, though, has brightened both of our spirits. It’s the “new era” I mentioned in an earlier blog post.

It will be a temporary arrangement. He needs to find a job, even though he is officially “retired” from the state of Texas, where he worked for 20-plus years as an adult probation officer.

After that, then the search will commence on a new place to hang his hat. However, I am delighted beyond words to have human companionship in my house, which had grown so very quiet since early February.

He brought his two cats with him. As of this moment, there have been no issues with Toby the Puppy, who continues to dominate his house. I don’t expect any trouble with the kitties. At least that is my fond hope.

This arrangement produces a whole array of “new normal” activities for both my son and me.

The journey continues.


New era update

AMARILLO, Texas — The elder of my sons is a giant step closer this afternoon to making a move that is likely to cause him more angst than he might realize at this moment.

He has been a grown man for quite some time now, so I am reluctant to share unsolicited advice with him … or his slightly younger brother. I did so privately today en route back from the landfill to his soon-to-be former house. He took it like the grownup he is, so enough said about that.

I also have told him that I am proud of him and that I welcome this change in his life and in mine as well. We’ll be roommates for a time in Princeton, sharing a house I once shared with my beloved bride, Kathy Anne.

It won’t be the same, for obvious reasons, but I welcome this change for reasons I know everyone who reads this blog and who has followed my journey through the darkness understands.

We have worked hard today. My son enlisted the help of a friend to do some of the heavy lifting. Very soon, he can put this chapter in his own life in his proverbial rearview mirror.

Then all of us — and that includes my younger son’s family — can look forward to new challenges and adventures.

For now, though, I am going to take a nap.


Fog is lifting … slowly

Every friend with whom I have discussed this matter has said the same thing: Do not rush your way out of your mourning and your heartache.

It will take time for your heart to heal, they say. Yes. I get it. My heart is still broken from the loss of my beloved bride, Kathy Anne, to cancer not quite three months ago. It isn’t likely to heal completely … ever!

I am not rushing anything. However, I am happy to report to those who have an interest in this journey I have been taking that I am beginning to establish a bit of a rhythm to my new life and, yes, the fog is lifting … albeit slowly.

Some things still pierce my soul; they bring tears to my eyes. One of them is the sight of the headstone with Kathy Anne’s name on it. The monument maker this week installed it and I have made two trips to the cemetery to see it. I’ll leave it at that.

But as I go through my day, I am finding an ability to accomplish tasks with dispatch. I take time to laugh at a joke. I play with Toby the Puppy, who continues to provide tremendous companionship … and who continues to entertain me in that way that only devoted pets can do.

And I am able to write about her on this blog, an exercise that gives me a form of emotional therapy.

I can talk openly about my bride now, whereas doing so just a few weeks ago would reduce me to blubbering.

Is any of this a startling revelation? Of course not! It is merely my understanding and appreciating the knowledge that my life is changed forever.

This much hasn’t changed since the day Kathy Anne left us: I still think of her practically every waking moment of every single day. Maybe one day that will change. Just not yet.


Indeed … all things must pass

The recent tragedy that befell my family and me has forced us to learn some of life’s harshest lessons.

The great singer/songwriter George Harrison once told us that “All things must pass … all things must pass away.”

Indeed, if I have learned anything about myself while I mourn the passing of my beloved bride, Kathy Anne, is that grief and mourning are part of life.

This is my way of reporting to those of you who have been following me along this journey that I am a fairly quick study when it comes to learning that lesson. I am able to go through most days now without welling up, or without weeping openly at the thought that my bride is no longer by my side.

I am able to complete household tasks. I am able to look at Kathy Anne’s pictures without sobbing. I am able to talk about her (most of the time) without stopping to collect myself.

Granted, there remain many more hurdles to clear as I continue this trek through the darkness. They don’t look quite as daunting today as they did soon after cancer took my bride away from us. Do not misunderstand me on this point, which is that those hurdles are formidable, but I am beginning to have faith that I’ll be able to get past them … eventually.

One of the lessons that has been drummed into my noggin is to not “rush anything,” that I am entitled to grieve in my own way and at my own pace. I accept that and I am adhering to that advice.

Thus, my grief will continue, but I damn sure won’t let it burden me. That’s life, man … because all things must pass.


Grief takes different course

Grief is the most unique and perhaps most intimate feeling one can experience, which I believe I am learning as I continue to process the loss of my bride, Kathy Anne.

Forty-three years ago, I received word of my father’s passing in a freak boating accident north of Vancouver, British Columbia. My initial reaction was strange, in that I could seemingly feel the blood drain from my body as I pondered the news that hit me like a punch in the gut.

Then came this notion that I could not look at photos of Dad. It took me some time to be able to look at his face captured forever in those photographs.

Not so with my bride. I find myself wanting to look at her smile, which could light up a room. She had a wide, somewhat toothy smile. She laughed easily.

These days, as I still struggle with my emotions, I find myself gazing at her. I have several photos of my bride scattered around the house. Some were taken at our wedding more than 51 years ago; some were shot at our son’s wedding; there’s a lovely picture of the two of us at our niece’s high school graduation in 1999.

I draw comfort in those photos, unlike the dread I felt when Dad was taken from us in that shocking manner in September 1980. I was just 30 years of age then. Today, well … I obviously am a whole lot older. Maybe my emotional mechanism is more defined than it was when I was a much younger man.

I wanted to share this item with you just to give you a quick update on my progress. I appreciate very much the expressions of thanks I am getting from those who are following this journey.

Truthfully, I am beginning to see glimmers of light as I trudge through this darkness. The pictures of Kathy Anne are helping.


‘Better,’ but not yet ‘good’

I believe I have made a reasonably profound conclusion upon returning from my westward journey to clear my head in the wake of my beloved bride’s passing from cancer.

It rests in an answer I give to those who know me and who are acutely aware of what happened to Kathy Anne on Feb. 3.

They ask: How are you doing? How are you feeling?

My answer: I am better. I am not yet good.

The conclusion I have reached? It is that I might never be “good” the way I used to define the word. Does that mean I am going to wallow in my grief? No. It means — as I perceive it — that I will have to accept that the pain that shattered my heart will remain with me for as long as I live.

My task, therefore, will be to carry on even as I continue to hurt. The two elements are not mutually exclusive, as those who have been through it have told me.

One dear friend — a fellow I have known since we were in high school — counseled me on my trip out west to “not be afraid to move forward, but never forget where you’ve been.” He speaks from his own experience of having lost his wife to cancer just a few years ago. My friend is a wise man and I take his advice seriously.

My trip was a good tonic for me. I returned home to North Texas feeling more peaceful than I did when I departed with Toby the Puppy. I am feeling better today than I did a month ago.

And you know what? I am not going to look for the “good” feeling. I will know if and when it shows up … kinda like the moment I first laid eyes on the girl of my dreams.


A ‘fulfilling’ journey

Rarely — if ever — in all my years walking this good Earth have I enjoyed a “fulfilling” time away from home.

I had one of those experiences during the past month on the road.

My wife passed away from brain cancer on Feb. 3. I wanted to get out of the house for a while to clear my head. Toby the Puppy and I put a lot of miles on my truck … 6,629 of them to be precise. We saw many family members and friends on our trek to the Pacific Coast.

I have received a number of gratifying responses from those who read this blog. I have written of my pain and the journey I took to help alleviate it. Kathy Anne and I were together for 52 years and her illness came on quickly and it advanced in a savage fashion.

Some of you have expressed thanks for sharing my journey with you and those expressions mean more to me than I can possibly articulate in this brief post.

I have proclaimed that I have accomplished my mission by clearing my head of the confusion that overwhelmed me along with the rest of my family. I am thinking more clearly now about how to proceed with my future plans, which I acknowledge remain a work in progress.

My heart still hurts. I won’t try to repair it overnight. Or even in the next few months or even longer than that. I have sought to develop coping mechanisms to deal with the pain that I expect will flare without warning.

I also have learned that I need not apologize for those moments when I weep. So … to those who read these words and with whom I will have personal contact, you are hereby advised to expect these episodes.

All of this my way of declaring that my journey was fulfilling and was the type of adventure that my beloved bride would agree is necessary to cleanse one’s soul.

I am glad to be home.


Mind is clearing

RICHFIELD, Utah — Am I allowed to declare “mission accomplished” regarding this journey that is winding to a close?

I set out to clear my mind and to remove myself from the closeness of the tragedy that befell our family on Feb. 3 with the passing of my beloved bride, Kathy Anne, to the ravages of cancer.

I believe my mind is considerably clearer now than it was when I set out on March 15 for points west. I can think of my bride without welling up. Talking about her, though, remains a challenge, as my heart remains severely damaged. I am working on that, but I cannot predict when I’ll turn that corner.

My friends and family have told me not to rush it. I won’t. I might never be free of the tears. I accept that, too, given that we spent 52 years together, 51 of them as husband and wife.

I will miss Kathy Anne forever and beyond. However, I am going to declare that my noggin is much clearer today than it was when Toby the Puppy and I launched our journey.

I am ready to go home.